How to cre­ate a bootable macos Mojave in­staller drive

Put the macos Mojave in­staller on an ex­ter­nal USB thumb drive or hard drive and use it to in­stall the op­er­at­ing sys­tem on a Mac.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY RO­MAN LOY­OLA

When­ever Ap­ple re­leases a new ver­sion of macos, I like to cre­ate a bootable USB in­stal­la­tion drive. I test dif­fer­ent Macs, and when I need to up­grade those ma­chines, it’s a lot more ef­fi­cient to plug in the USB in­staller drive and run the in­staller, than to log into the App Store, down­load the 6GB OS in­staller, and then run it.

Be­cause it’s so easy to cre­ate an ex­ter­nal in­stal­la­tion drive, it’s my pre­ferred

means of in­stalling the OS. I keep it around for those time when I would rather use the drive than rely on boot­ing in Re­cov­ery mode ( go.mac­ rcmd).

In this ar­ti­cle I’ll go over the dif­fer­ent ways you can cre­ate a bootable macos Mojave in­stal­la­tion drive. But be­fore I give in­struc­tions on how to cre­ate the drive, I’ll go over the items you’ll need and how to get them.


The macos Mojave in­staller soft­ware is just over 6GB, so you need a USB ex­ter­nal drive that can hold that much data—it can be a thumb­drive, a hard drive, or an SSD.

If you want to use a thumb drive, an 8GB drive works per­fectly. I used an 8GB Kingston Data Trav­eler G4 ($11 on Ama­zon [ go.mac­]); it’s cheap and it sup­ports USB 3.1, so it’s fast. I’ve also used a Vi­sion­tek 120GB USB 3.0 Pocket Solid State Drive (Ama­zon [ go.mac­ v120]) and older USB thumb drives that sup­port USB 2, which is slower, but works.

If you have a 2015 or newer Macbook or a 2016 or newer Macbook Pro, you may need Ap­ple’s $19 USB to USB-C adapter ( go.mac­ This will al­low you to con­nect a stor­age de­vice that uses a USB type-a ( go.mac­ con­nec­tor. If you don’t have an ex­ter­nal drive and you have a USB-C Mac lap­top, you could buy the San­disk Ul­tra USB Type-c Flash Drive, which has a USB-C con­nec­tor. You can get a SDCZ450016G-G46 ( go.mac­

When cre­at­ing the boot drive, the stor­age de­vice is re­for­mat­ted, so there’s no need to for­mat the drive be­fore­hand.


The macos Mojave in­staller is avail­able in the App Store. If you launch the App Store app, do a search for “Mojave.” Or, if you click this Mojave App Store link ( go. mac­, it will take you to the Mojave App Store web­page, then click on the View In The Mac App Store but­ton.

You can read the in­for­ma­tion to learn more about Mojave. When you’re ready to down­load the soft­ware, click the

Down­load but­ton un­der the icon on the up­per left. (If you’ve al­ready down­loaded the in­staller, the but­ton will say Open in­stead of Down­load.)

Once the down­load is com­plete, the in­staller will launch au­to­mat­i­cally. But don’t con­tinue with the in­stal­la­tion. In­stead, press Com­mand-q on your key­board to quit the in­staller.

The Mojave in­staller app will be in your Ap­pli­ca­tions folder, so you can go there and launch it later to up­grade your Mac to the new op­er­at­ing sys­tem.


I used a free app called In­stall Disk Cre­ator to make the in­stal­la­tion drive ( go. mac­ There’s an­other app called Diskmaker X ( go.mac­ dkmx), but the in­struc­tions here are for In­stall Disk Cre­ator.

Down­load In­stall Disk Cre­ator by click­ing on the link above. When the down­load is done, you can move it over to your Ap­pli­ca­tions folder. Then fol­low th­ese steps to cre­ate your bootable macos Mojave drive.

1. Con­nect your drive to your Mac.

2. Launch In­stall Disk Cre­ator.

3. In the main win­dow, you’ll see a pop-up menu un­der Se­lect The Vol­ume To Be­come The In­staller. Click on the menu and se­lect your drive.

4. Un­der the pop-up menu, you’ll see Se­lect

The OS X In­staller. (macos used to be called OS X.) If you have only the Mojave on your Mac, In­stall Disk Cre­ator will au­to­mat­i­cally se­lect it. If you have other macos in­stall­ers, you need to click on Se­lect The OS X In­staller and se­lect the Mojave in­staller.

5. When you’re ready, click Cre­ate In­staller. Your Mac may tell you that In­stall Disk Cre­ator wants to make changes, and you need to en­ter your user name and pass­word. Af­ter you do this, the app will take a few min­utes to cre­ate the boot drive. A progress bar ap­pears at the bot­tom of the In­stall Disk Cre­ate win­dow.

If you try to start the process and you get a fail­ure mes­sage say­ing that the drive couldn’t be un­mounted, try re­for­mat­ting the drive first as EXFAT us­ing Disk Util­ity. Then start the process over again.

When the app is done, the in­staller is ready to use.


You don’t need to use In­stall Disk Cre­ator to cre­ate a bootable in­staller. You can do it in the Ter­mi­nal and it’s easy. Here are the in­struc­tions.

1. Con­nect the ex­ter­nal drive to your

Mac. In th­ese in­struc­tions, I use Un­ti­tled as the name of the ex­ter­nal drive. If your drive is named some­thing else, you need to change Un­ti­tled to the name of your drive.

2. Launch Ter­mi­nal (/Ap­pli­ca­tions/ Util­i­ties/ter­mi­

3. Se­lect and copy the fol­low­ing:

sudo /Ap­pli­ca­tions/in­stall\ macos\­tents/ Re­sources/cre­ate­in­stall­me­dia --vol­ume /Vol­umes/un­ti­tled -- / Ap­pli­ca­tions/in­stall\ macos\

4. Go back to Ter­mi­nal and paste the copied code at the prompt. Press Re­turn.

5. Ter­mi­nal will warn you that your ex­ter­nal drive needs to be erased. To pro­ceed, type Y at the prompt and press Re­turn.

6. You’ll see that Ter­mi­nal erases your drive and then copies the in­staller file to your drive. This will take a few min­utes.

7. Af­ter copy­ing, Ter­mi­nal is done. You should see Ter­mi­nal dis­play a “Copy com­plete” and Done no­tice. You can quit Ter­mi­nal and your drive is ready for use.


1. Plug your ex­ter­nal drive into your Mac.

2. Power up (or restart) your Mac. Press down on the Op­tion key while the Mac boots.

3. Af­ter a few mo­ments, your Mac should dis­play the Startup Man­ager, which will show you the avail­able boot drives. Click on the ex­ter­nal drive and press Re­turn. (You don’t need to se­lect a net­work to pro­ceed.)

4. Your Mac will dis­play a macos Utilites win­dow. If you want to in­stall Mojave and leave the data in­tact, se­lect In­stall macos. If you want to start over and wipe out the data, you need to go into

Disk Util­ity to re­for­mat the in­ter­nal drive first, and then in­stall macos Mojave. ■

A Vi­sion­tek USB drive conec­cted to a 2017 Macbook Pro via Ap­ple’s USB-C VGA Mul­ti­port Adapter ($69).

The main win­dow of In­stall Disk Cre­ator.

4.Paste the code you copied into the Ter­mi­nal then press Re­turn. You’ll be asked about eras­ing the disk.

2.The Ter­mi­nal. Don’t worry if your screen doesn’t look like this. I changed it in the Ter­mi­nal set­tings, and you can too. In Ter­mi­nal, se­lect Ter­mi­nal → Pref­er­ences → Pro­files, click on the one you like, and then click on the De­fault but­ton.



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